Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear - so reads a prominent poster in one of the Group Offices of Indian Army’s Commando Wing (CW) in Belgaum.
During the 32-day commando course, a solider has to clear the physical training (PT), battle obstacle course (BOC), endurance speed marches and confidence jump - all with excellent grading.
Major Varun Maandi, Instructor, CW, tells Express that to successfully complete the commando course it is imperative that every soldier possesses a high level of physical fitness. “As most of our students come from active employment along our borders, we have designed a progressive course that revitalises their physical prowess. After initially toning up the body, we gradually increase stress levels and training hours with three hour runs and strenuous exercises. These are then followed by other individual and group exercises. The PT sessions begin at 2 am,” Major Varun said.
Next comes, the BOC which forms an important part of training. Here, a solider has to negotiate 22 obstacles in stipulated time, carrying a load of 3.5 kg and his personnel weapon. If a soldier can’t complete the obstacles in 18 minutes and 30 seconds, he fails the BOC. To be fit to serve as an instructor at the wing, a student has to complete the obstacle course in 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
According to Major Varun, the endurance speed marches (forced marches) are 10 km, 20km, 30 km and 40 km. “The student has to carry a load of 17.5 kg and his personal weapon (3.5 kg) during the marches. These endurance exercises are spaced out over the complete training cycle and the course ends with the 40-km march, which has to be completed in 6 hours and 10 minutes, to avoid failing in the complete commando course,” he said.
At the CW, the most daring part of the course is the confidence exercise, called the ‘Lido Jump.’ A student has to walk on a wooden plank 24 inches wide and 40 feet long, 50 feet above a water tank and negotiate two flights of stairs. “He then gets on the horizontal rope at a height of 55 feet and monkey crawls a distance of 10 feet. After that he hangs with both his hands, stabilizes his body and jumps into the water below at the crack of a rifle. This exercise is designed to help overcome vertigo and develop self confidence in a student,” says Major Varun.
In another confidence exercise, a student has to slide down from a platform at 50 feet keeping his body in a taut ‘L’ shape. To be adjudged fit to be an instructor, a student has to let go of the slide and dive into the water tank.